Note: This is a guest article by Debbie Paver, an independent, home-based travel agent. She operates Joy in the Journey Travel agency. The name is based on the idea that there should be joy in every journey. She works independently but under a host company which allows her to have a “best of both worlds” situation. She has the support and counsel of a large agency but can offer personalized, individual attention to her clients. She has a certificate in Travel and Tourism from Columbus Paraprofessional Institute and several additional certificates from completing cruise and tour supplier training.
As a travel agent there are certain questions that come up frequently, I have chosen a couple of those questions to address here. I hope you will find this information helpful.
Q) How do agents get paid?
A) Travel Agents make their money from commissions paid by the vacation suppliers. This commission is already “built in” to the cost of the trip so whether you choose to use a local agent or not, your trip cost will include this commission lumped into the total expense. As one travel agent puts it, you purchase travel “with” personal service or “without” and either way you will pay the same price for the trip.
Some agents do charge a service fee to protect themselves from spending hours on research only to have the client book it themselves on the Internet. These fees usually range between $20 and $50 and are well worth the time and mental exhaustion that you could put into researching the trip yourself. It’s always best to ask the agent during the initial inquiry what fees, if any, they charge for their services.
Q) Do I really need to purchase travel protection?
A) As much as I hate the idea of buying things that will probably not be used, travel protection is something that I do highly recommend, especially if you will be traveling outside of the U.S., including cruise port stops. Most U.S. health plans do not include international coverage or they include it but with a hefty (think 5 digit) deductible to meet first. If you think that your plan covers you outside of the U.S. call the provider and ask them specifically what is and is not covered and ask the dollar amounts of the coverage. An overseas hospital stay can really add up!
In addition to the medical coverage, travel protection covers expenses incurred if your flight is delayed or canceled or if your luggage is lost and you need to purchase clothing etc. at your destination. It also reimburses some or all of your trip costs if you have a (covered) emergency that forces you to cancel your trip. Many people assume that if they have to cancel a trip due to an illness or injury or death in the family, the airline/resort/cruise ship or tour company is going to understand and kindly refund the cost of the trip that you now cannot take. This is simply not the case. Because travel protection exists and you have the option to buy it, the travel suppliers do not offer refunds, no matter how good your reason for canceling is.
A good travel protection policy will cover several reasons for canceling, delaying or interrupting a trip, such as a death in the family or an accident that causes you not to be able to travel, just to name a few. There are even “Cancel for Any Reason” policies that allow you to be reimbursed the trip cost if you choose to cancel just because you changed your mind. These policies cost more, of course.
There are a few situations in which I would not strongly recommend trip protection. Such as if you are driving your own car to/from a U.S. destination and your hotel either includes a cancellation policy or the stay is just for a few nights and it would not be a hardship for you to lose the cost of the reservation should you have to cancel.
The subject of whether or not to purchase Travel Protection is something you should discuss early in the trip planning so that you can get an estimate of the cost and include that in your budget.
If you're planning a trip, please feel free to contact me. You can reach me at (937) 309-4481, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit me on Facebook-www.facebook.com/joyinthejourneytravel.